PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland – Graeme McDowell knows pressure, from delivering the winning point for Europe in the Ryder Cup to winning the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. All he was trying to do Friday in the British Open was make the cut.
And he felt it.
“Anytime you’re trying to make a cut on a Friday afternoon, especially at a major championship, you’re always a little tight, a little nervous,” McDowell said. “But this one obviously means a lot, to play the weekend here.”
McDowell was among three Ulstermen at Royal Portrush, but no roots run deeper. He was born and raised here, and grew up playing the Valley Links of adjacent Rathmore Golf Club and Royal Portrush.
He began the British Open having to flick a tear from his eye. He finished the opening round with a triple bogey. And with four holes to go, he was right on the cut line and couldn’t buy a putt. But he finished with four straight pars for a 70 and gets two more days.
“Just how much this meant, how symbolic this weekend is, and to make sure I was in there was very important to me,” McDowell said. “And I couldn’t seem to get a putt to drop 15, 16, 17. And thankfully, made two nice swings at the last and gave myself a look. It was satisfying.”
McDowell was so bothered by his finish Thursday that he went home instead of going to the range. His goal Friday, along with making the cut, was to reset and put on a good show for the home crowd.
“That was part of what I wanted to do today was have a great attitude for them,” he said. “I don’t want anybody out there feeling sorry for me, whether I triple the last or not. I’m in a very privileged position and I need to keep my head high and obviously show these people I’m proud to be here. … I managed to kind of reset and come out with the right attitude today and continue to hit some pretty good shots.”
Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, the two star attractions at the British Open, won’t be around for the weekend.
They had plenty of company.
U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland, Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson were among those who missed the cut in a major for the first time this year. Also missing the cut was Jason Day, Brandt Snedeker and Hideki Matsuyama.
Woods now has missed the cut in 10 majors for his pro career. Mickelson has missed the cut in majors 14 times. But this was the first time in 77 majors they have played together as pros that they missed the cut at the same major.
Bob MacIntyre, the 23-year-old Scot in his British Open debut, says he had a few words with one of his playing partners after a tee shot went into the crowd and hit his caddie’s mother.
MacIntyre said he was angry with Kyle Stanley, not because of the wayward shot on the 17th hole, but because he didn’t yell “Fore.”
“We’re shouting as it’s coming into the crowd and he’s just standing watching it,” MacIntyre said. “People don’t have enough time to react after we shout. It hits Greg (Milne), my caddie’s, mom. And so I told them how it was.”
MacIntyre said both he and his other playing partner, Andrew Johnston, shouted as the ball was coming down, but it was too late.
Milne’s mother was not injured, he said.
MacIntyre made the cut after shooting 72 to stand at 2 under for the tournament. Stanley, who made par on the hole, shot 67 and is at 4 under.
I can hear you
Shane Lowry sent his tee shot on the 17th well to the right and into the gallery, and he was visibly upset about a distraction during his swing.
He heard television commentary – about his swing.
“There’s a little tented village with a TV screen about 80 yards from the tee box,” Lowry said. “And I could hear Jay Townsend commenting on my shot. Just on my backswing, he said, `He’s got 295 to the top of the hill.’ Yeah, that put me off.”
But his ball was found on a trampled path, so he had a good lie. And even though he went long, Lowry made another superb pitch and saved par. Lowry said he had no plans to seek out the R&A to turn down the volume on the television.
“Maybe they might hear this,” he said with a smile.
Man’s best friend
J.B. Holmes was leading the British Open when he signed for a 68 and faced the media.
Nearly half the questions were about his dog.
“His name is Ace,” Holmes said. “We got him at a charity auction.”
Holmes didn’t want a dog when he was about to embark on a season of travel, but they found a way to travel with the miniature Golden doodle. Now they go just about everywhere with Ace and their 18-month-old son.
“It’s a little pain getting him through the airport sometimes, but it’s worth it being able to travel with a piece of home with you,” Holmes said. “He’s like a family member. You ask my 18-month-old son who’s his best buddy, he says Ace. It’s nice to have him around.”
Holmes had to leave Ace – and his son – at home because of all the paperwork required for overseas.
“We FaceTime the son, and the dog is in the background,” Holmes said. “They’re never too far apart.”
Holmes didn’t mention the charity auction, only that he wound up paying $5,000 for Ace.
“That’s been the cheapest thing about the dog so far,” he said.
AP Sports Writer Tim Dahlberg contributed to this report.
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